Mistrial declared in Jodi Arias penalty phase

Retrial set for July to decide punishment in boyfriend's killing
2013-05-24T00:00:00Z Mistrial declared in Jodi Arias penalty phaseThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Jurors who spent five months determining Jodi Arias' fate couldn't decide whether she should get life in prison or die for murdering her boyfriend, sending prosecutors back to the drawing board to rehash the shocking case of sex, lies and violence to another 12 people.

Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh as she announced a mistrial in the penalty phase of the case Thursday and scheduled a July 18 retrial.

"This was not your typical trial," she told jurors. "You were asked to perform some very difficult duties."

The panel then filed out of the courtroom after 13 hours of deliberation that spanned three days, with one female juror turning to the victim's family and mouthing, "Sorry." She and two other women on the jury were crying.

None of the jurors commented as they left court.

The mistrial set the stage for a whole new proceeding to determine whether the 32-year-old former waitress should get a life sentence or the death penalty for murdering Travis Alexander five years ago. Arias stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat slit and shot him in the forehead in what prosecutors described as a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned to head off on a trip to Mexico with another woman.

A new jury will be seated to try again to reach a decision on Arias' sentence - unless the prosecutor takes execution off the table and agrees to a life term.

Arias, who first said she wanted to die and later pleaded to the jury for her life, looked visibly upset about the mistrial and sobbed before it was announced. Her family didn't attend Thursday but has been present for much of the trial.

Alexander's family cried as they left the courtroom.

The same jury on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexander, who was nearly decapitated in the bathroom of his Mesa home. The jury later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.

Under Arizona law, a hung jury in a trial's death penalty phase requires a new jury to be seated to decide the punishment. If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.

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